Inscribing Professional Knowledge and Knowing

  • Lina Markauskaite
  • Peter Goodyear
Part of the Professional and Practice-based Learning book series (PPBL, volume 14)


This chapter is the first of a pair of chapters concerned with the role of inscriptions and inscriptional practices in professional work and professional education. We use the term ‘inscription’ to cover a wide range of representations that are produced in media (external to the mind). Inscriptions play a vital role in knowledgeable work and innovation, so understanding the nature of professional inscriptions, and how students learn the capacities for inscribing, is critical. In this chapter, we analyse the activity of someone who is learning to be a school counsellor, tracing the inscriptional practices involved in completing one of their core tasks. We distinguish between three types of inscription: projective (inscriptions for practice), productive (inscriptions in practice) and illuminative (inscriptions of practice). Building on this ground, we introduce an enactive view of inscriptions and argue that students should be helped to see how – through inscriptional activity – they can both extend their own learning and knowing and improve the systems in which they are working.

These ideas are particularly useful to professional educators who are aiming for a better alignment between educational goals and inscriptional tasks that are set for students. Achieving a better alignment is greatly helped by understanding how inscriptions vary, how they function and what roles they play in knowledgeable action.


Inscriptional practices External representations Functional properties of inscriptions Enactive view of inscriptions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lina Markauskaite
    • 1
  • Peter Goodyear
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Research on Learning and Innovation (CRLI), Faculty of Education & Social WorkThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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